Will Cannes celebrate great creativity or be another fist fight between the big agency networks?

Digital agency Decoded’s Cannes Oracle, which uses machine learning to predict the likely results at next week’s Cannes Lions, is one of the brighter wheezes of the year.

And today, among other predictions, it gives WPP a 77 per cent chance of outperforming Omnicom in the film awards, still the blue riband category.

Which holding company wins the most awards points is pretty meaningless: if you’re the biggest, as WPP still is, then you clearly have the best chance.

More instructive is a comparison of individual agency networks. Last year Ogilvy propelled WPP to top spot overall with its own stellar performance as top network, winning over 100 Lions. This was the first time any agency had done that – although it should be noted that Lions breed like rabbits at Cannes.

UnknownIn so doing, Ogilvy unseated the usual winner, Omnicom’s BBDO, which will be much on the mind of BBDO CEO Andrew Robertson as he packs his polo shirts. As it will on those of his top creatives too, of course. Elsewhere in Omnicom, the combative DDB global CCO Amir Kassaei (left, now based in China) will be keeping a beady eye on the various networks’ performance. Last year he accused WPP agencies of ganging up against Omnicom’s in the jury rooms.

Actually it would be odd if they didn’t as there’s so much riding on Cannes success these days; including people’s jobs and the bonuses those who keep them might earn.

Which makes it all a bit silly. Last year Ogilvy was estimated by some to have spent north on $10m on its Cannes bid; not just in entry fees but special versions of ads.

The agency will no doubt do well again as, presumably, Dove’s ‘Real Beauty Sketches’ will still be eligible for a raft of awards. For many people in adland this is the way of the future: doing good while also helping sales a bit.

We might demur but it’s undoubtedly helped to establish Dove as a brand with a difference and, as a campaign, draws on Ogilvy’s considerable global resources to good effect, with various agencies contributing original work.

Our favourite bookmaker Paddy Power, when it’s not giving the Amazon rain forest a ‘Brazilian’ in another rather desperate stunt, has probably closed the book on Volvo Trucks’ ‘Epic Split’ from Forsman & Bodenfors and Dentsu’s Ayrton Senna winning big, although the Film Grand Prix could still spring a surprise.

But the real fun will be watching the networks and their holding company owners butt against each other, no doubt with allegations that will make the current FIFA squabbles over the 2022 World Cup look like amateur time.

So it will be nice if some indie agencies – like Forsman & Bodenfors – spoil their party.

Wieden+Kennedy Portland has had a rough old time recently, making lay-offs in the wake of client cutbacks, but might this one for Southern Comfort sneak in?

And this one from W+K London seems tailor-made for an international event.

At least they’re trying to sell us something.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.